KSU staff freshens campus for fall

Caitlin Saniga

Groundskeeper Mitzi Winkleman weed-whacks along Summit Street last Friday. Winkleman has been working at Kent State for five years and prior to her start here she was working in Ft. Myers, Florida. Winkleman says she is still getting used to the snow, but

Credit: Jason Hall

On campus, the flowers are blooming, the athletics fields are mowed and lined, the crosswalks are freshly painted – and it’s all thanks to the Building and Grounds department.

“We’re the first impression people get when they walk on campus,” grounds manager Heather White said. “They haven’t been in a building yet so they don’t know if it’s clean or dirty, but they can tell if the grass is cut I like to say that we’re the ‘pretty face.'”

White, who currently oversees about 40 employees, said the grounds department has been working since the beginning of August, rain or shine, to get the Kent campus ready for the fall semester.

“Weather is the one thing that drives everything we do,” she said.

White said that even during the drier first half of the summer, groundskeepers mowed “as often as possible to keep the weeds low.”

Once the rain finally came in August, they worked overtime, using five zero-radius mowers and two large three-deck mowers to stay on schedule. The only time the mowers’ schedule was interrupted was for lightning.

Some major back-to-school projects included repairing water and steam lines for Tri-Towers, Allerton Apartments and Satterfield and White halls. The department also switched many parking meters from single to double meters to reduce “visual pollution” on campus, White said.

Other grounds tasks included planting flowers, pruning trees, putting up new parking signs, constructing chain-link fences and collecting all campus trash and recycling items.

“If you think we don’t do it, we do,” White said with a laugh.

Senior accounting major Steve Kaplan has seen four years of grounds department upgrades and projects, and he thinks campus is “beautiful.”

“They’re always planting trees and flowers,” he said.

White said she thinks everyone on campus appreciates her staff’s work, even if they don’t realize it.

“I think if we didn’t do it, people would notice,” she said.

Contact buildings and grounds reporter Caitlin Saniga [email protected].